TORONTO -- The Ontario government has adopted an emergency order that will allow it to appoint a manager to oversee the response to COVID-19 at long-term care homes struggling to deal with an outbreak.

There have been 249 outbreaks at Ontario’s 626 long-term care homes and the sector now accounts for more than three quarters of all COVID-19 deaths.

In a press release issued on Wednesday morning, the province said that the emergency order will “support the use of rapid, immediate and effective management alternatives to protect residents and staff within a home” when necessary.

At this point it is unclear whether the province has any immediate plans to appoint someone to lead the response to COVID-19 at one of Ontario’s long-term care facilities.

"We are doing everything we can to fortify the iron ring of protection around our long-term care residents and the heroic frontline staff who care for them. By taking this step, we will be better prepared to immediately swing into action if a home is struggling to contain this deadly virus,” Premier Doug Ford said in the release.

The provincial government has previously adopted emergency orders restricting the movement of staff between long-term care homes and enabling the redeployment of hospital staff to address staffing shortages.

In the release, Minister of Long-Term Care Dr. Merrilee Fullerton said that the latest emergency order is “another step” to “ensure homes are provided with the support they need at this challenging time.”